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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 08:16 GMT
Funeral for veteran MP Sir Ray
Sir Ray Powell, Ogmore MP
Pictured in 1984, Sir Ray will be fondly remembered
The funeral of veteran Labour MP Sir Ray Powell who died last week at the age of 73 has been held near to this south Wales constituency.

The member for Ogmore, died on 7 December in his London home after a suspected asthma attack.

He was cremated at Coychurch Crematorium in Bridgend, just a few miles from his constituency on the south Wales coast.

Tony Blair, Prime Minister
Tony Blair led the tributes to Sir Ray
Sir Ray's death will lead to the second by-election of this Parliament, although the date of the poll is yet to be announced.

Both Tony Blair and Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan have praised Sir Ray's contribution to political life.

In a tribute, Lord Barry Jones, former Labour MP Alyn and Deeside, Clwyd, said: "He had a heart, he cared and he showed that he did care.

"When necessary he was a warrior in politics. He was quick, he was shrewd, he was resourceful and he was strong.

"He was proud, he was determined. He was for the underdog, he loved his constituents.

"Sir Ray had the Rhondda valley stamped down his spine."

Welsh whip

Renowned for his role as opposition whip between 1984 and 1995, he sat on numerous Commons committees - including the Welsh Affairs Select Committee - and was knighted in 1996 for his services to the House.

His strength of character was shown during 10 years as a Labour whip, when he was in charge of organising which MPs got the best offices in the cramped Westminster corridors.

Janice Gregory AM
Janice Gregory AM: 'Devastated'
Sir Ray kept a young, feisty MP called Ken Livingstone - now mayor of London - waiting for an office for a year to keep him in his place.

He went on to play a key role in the development of Westminster's adjoining office block Portcullis House, built to house MPs in modern surroundings.

In the run-up to the 1997 general election, he claimed he had been offered a peerage in exchange for his seat if he agreed to stand down.

In the referendum on devolution during that same year, Sir Ray was one of a handful of rebel Labour MPs.

He claimed he was not against having a National Assembly for Wales - just the proportional voting system used to elect it.

At the last election, he held his Ogmore seat with a majority of more than 14,000.

His daughter is Janice Gregory, the Assembly Member for Ogmore.

See also:

08 Dec 01 | Wales
Tributes to 'valued ally'
09 Dec 01 | Wales
Veteran Labour MP dies
30 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Welsh Labour old guard fights on
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